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Returning to Silence

Golden runs April 18th and 25th at 6pm.
Get your tickets here!

by Jesssica von Schramm, Golden cast member

I didn’t speak as a child. I knew how to, but I suffered from Selective Mutism, an anxiety disorder characterized by the inability to speak in social settings. At school, I would only nod or shake my head and point to things. The disorder was a struggle, but fortunately I outgrew it. Nowadays it’s difficult to get me to stop talking.

But life is all about full circle moments, and now I’ve returned to using the nonverbal communication I relied on so heavily as a kid. In Golden, an improvised play inspired by silent films, we are boldly following in the footsteps of the silent greats like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Mary Pickford. We are daring to emulate our comedic idols such as Lucille Ball, Tim Conway, Steve Martin, and my personal favorite – Gilda Radner. These physical comedians used their entire bodies to express themselves, and our fantastic directors, Marc and Jayme, have taught us how to do the same. We’ve learned how to contort our bodies and faces to create engaging, memorable characters. We strive to make all of our movements – the big, wild gestures and the small, nuanced ones – calculated and intentional.

And, in forgoing the ability to speak, we’ve gained the ability to communicate telepathically. Okay, that’s not true, but sometimes it feels like the cast can read one another’s minds! We spend so much time together that we’re practically fluent in each other’s body language. But that’s not to say we don’t misread things from time and time. And when that happens, well, it’s even funnier.

But Golden is more than just physicality. Space work and music are ingredients of our storytelling as well. We craft our silent narratives using the same alchemy that films such as Nosferatu, The General, The Gold Rush, and Metropolis used – intimacy, focus, and commitment. Improvising a play is challenging; improvising a play silently is doubling down on that challenge. But when I watch my cast perform during rehearsals, I’m reminded that actions speak louder than words. We’ve created narratives about struggling artists, mistaken identities, and wayward cult members. Our stories have been set in decades past and in modern times (get it?). We’ve fallen in love silently, we’ve deceived silently…we’ve murdered silently. Cue the dramatic music!

We’re bringing silence back, and we hope you come along for the ride. In the immortal words of Depeche Mode, “Words are very unnecessary.” Come see Golden every Saturday in April at 6pm. We’ll make sure you enjoy the silence!

Golden runs April 18th and 25th at 6pm.
Get your tickets here!

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Inspiration is Golden

The newest student mainstage show, Golden, opens tomorrow, Saturday April 4 at 6pm and plays every Saturdayin April. We talked with Golden director Marc Majcher about his inspirations for this silent, expressive improv show.

 

1) Metropolis - I wanted to emphasize that silent work is great for more than comedy, and Metropolis is one of my favorite silent movies all around. The movement of the different kinds of groups together, the expression of its themes (work sucks, man), and the over-theatrical closeups are super cool. (Also up for contender in the #1 slot: Fritz Lang’s M, Nosferatu, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)

2) W.C. Fields - Although he wasn’t primarily a silent actor, his bits of physical comedy rival any of the usual trio of Keaton, Lloyd, and Chaplin. He’s great at committing to a stupid, stupid bit for way too long – the pool scene is amazing.

3) Marcel Marceau - You hear his name, and you think of the stereotypical mime, but his facial expressions and detailed body isolations are spectacular. He also did some crazy work with one of my favorite directors, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who created this piece, the Mask Maker for him.

4) Jaques Tati - His use of movement and rhythm in movies like Playtime informed a lot of the stuff we worked on.

5) Rowan Atkinson’s Mister Bean - Yes, the same one we do the Maestro game about. Like Fields, but more modern, with his insertion of trouble and obstacles to make the most mundane scene amazing, frustrating, and beautiful.

Get your tickets for “Golden” here before they’re all gone!

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Public Secrets and Relations

Courtney, here! This is a pretty exciting week for me. Here’s why:

 

1. I now business-card-officially work for the Hideout doing public relations! It’s a dream to work at a theater that I care about, that I perform at, that has provided me and so many others with so much joy and meaning over the years.

 

2. Austin Secrets opens tomorrow! It’s such a meaningful and special show. This is my third year doing it and it still constantly surprises me, touches me and makes me laugh. I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my life as I have been in the truth chair. The audience can ask you any question and you have to answer truthfully. It’s terrifying but it’s so cathartic and creates a unique bond between the audience and the cast.

So come out to Austin Secrets Tomorrow at 8pm, ask me some personal questions and watch me spill my guts out. Make sure to buy me a cocktail afterward, though!

 

photo by Warren Henderson

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